Argentina's Fiscal Deficit Narrowed in First Quarter

Argentina posted a narrower-than-expected primary deficit in the first quarter as tax revenue increased at a faster pace than public spending.

The fiscal deficit totaled 41.3 billion pesos ($2.65 billion), compared with nearly 46 billion pesos a year earlier, Economy Minister Nicolas Dujovne said Thursday.

The government had set a deficit target of 58.5 billion pesos for the quarter, equivalent to 0.6% of gross domestic product.

"We're satisfied to be able to surpass the target but this is simply the beginning of a long-term fiscal program in which we want to be very prudent and very careful with public spending," Mr. Dujovne said at a news conference.

Income rose sharply in March in part because of a one-off tax amnesty program that encouraged people to admit to having previously undeclared assets. Overall primary spending is steady on the year even as the government invests more in infrastructure and social programs, Mr. Dujovne said.

The government aims to reduce the deficit to 4.2% of GDP this year and to 3.2% in 2018 followed by 2.2% in 2019. As the economy grows, officials say, the deficit should shrink as a percentage of overall economic output.

"We want to keep spending at current levels in the coming years and we want the provinces to do the same," Mr. Dujovne said.

Write to Taos Turner at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 27, 2017 12:57 ET (16:57 GMT)